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Full text of "Medical Jurisprudence And Toxicology"

CHAPTER XXXI

SPINAL POISONS
STRYCHNOS NUX VOMICA   (KUCHILA) O

This tree belongs to N.O. Loganiacese, and grows in the jungles of Man-
bhoom, and in the Madras State, Malabar and Coromandel Coasts,

Its ripe fruit contains nux vomica seeds, which are poisonous. They
are flat, circular discs, or slightly concave on one side and convex on the
other being I" to V in diameter, and i" in thickness. They are ash-grey
in colour and have a shining surface with short satiny hairs. Internally,
they are tough, horny and slightly translucent, having no odour but posses-
sing a bitter taste. They yield two principal alkaloids, ^ strychnine and
brucine, united with strychnic, igasuric or caffeotannic acid. Besides, the
seeds contain to a small extent a glucoside, named loganin. The bark, wood
and leaves contain brucine, but no strychnine.

The following trees belonging to N.O. Loganiaceae also contain the same
alkaloids : —

1.    Strychnos Colubrina (Snake wood,
Kuchila lata or Gogari lakdi).

2.    Strychnos   Ignatii    (St.   Ignatius'
Beans, Pcupita).

3.    Strychnos Tieute   (Upas tree): —
This is used in making arrow and dart
poisons by the jungle tribes of the Malay
Peninsula.

Strychnine, C2iH22O2N2.—This crystal-
lizes in colourless, inodorous, rhombic
prisms, having an intensely bitter taste.
It dissolves very sparingly in water or
ether, but dissolves in alcohol (90 per
cent) and in benzene, and readily in
chloroform. It is a B.P.C. preparation,
the dose being 1/32 to 4 grain.

Strychnine is very stable, and does not
change in the process of putrefaction, if
present in a dead body. Hence it can be
detected some years after death.

Strychnine is used for destroying stray, unclaimed dogs, rats, mice and
other vermin, and forms the chief ingredient of several vermin killers,
known as Barber's, Battle's, Butler's, Hunter's and Marsden's vermin killers
and Miller's rat powders. These consists of starch and are mixed with some
colouring material, such as soot,* indigo, Prussian blue or ultramarine. The
sale of strychnine and vermin killers to the public is restricted under the
rules made under the Poisons Act, 1919.

Brucine, CasHfceOJ^.—This occurs in colourless, prismatic crystals with
an^ intensely bitter taste. It is slightly soluble in cold water, but more in
boiling water, and freely in alcohol, chloroform and amyl alcohol, but not in
ether. It resembles strychnine both chemically and physiologically, but its
toxic effect is only about one-twelfth of that of strychnine.

Both strychnine and brucine form salts, many of which are soluble in
water.

Fig. 194.—Strychnos Nux Vomica.